At the moment it is fashionable to not praise children on issues they don't control (inherent intelligence) and instead praise them on what they can control-- effort, hard work. Ref.

English doesn't have a tidy word for this that I can think of.

Icelandic does, duglegur, which basically means persistent and, hard working and is routinely used to praise children. One online dictionary says this means работящий, энергичный, способный, ловкий. I'm not sure how to use these in a colloquial phrase.

What phrases in Russian convey this?

3 Answers 3


Analogue for the "Good job" is "молодец" (that is not recommended in the article you posted the link to).

Though Quassnoi is probably right that "прилежный" is best match for what you are seeking, the word itself (as for me) is so bound to school marks that I would not be happy if someone told me that I am. I would propose старательный, усердный.

As for phrases I would probably say "У тебя очень хорошо получается", "ты очень старался", "ты на славу поработал", etc.

Here are some more examples from russian article on parenting. Note that all praises are focused on current situation and you cannot just say one word to achieve your parenting goal:

Умница! Очень аккуратно строишь!

Молодец! Отлично для первого раза!


The word you are looking for is most probably прилежный: "diligent, thorough, able to perform routine work and do their best to get things done".

Russian schools used to grade поведение ("demeanor") and прилежание ("diligence") at the end of school terms, along with the subjects taught in the school.

Those grades did not necessarily correlate with the subject grades: a not so bright pupil could get a 5 (highest mark) for diligence but 4 for the subject itself, while brilliant but lazy kid could ignore homework and classwork being good in tests, getting excellent subject results but a lower grade for diligence.

  • These concepts are used in the US schools too, although they are not always graded explicitly. The terms are "conduct" and "effort".
    – Dima
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:41

Even though "молодец" и "умница" are correct translations, I'd say that there are used much less commonly than "Good job" in America. After 8 years in the U.S. I'd say that "Good job" is used very often, all the time, and it seems to be true in different states. In particular, parents seem to be saying "Good job" to their children very often.

I don't think it is that common to praise children in Russia, either for effort or for intelligence. In general, I'd say, it is much more in the Russian culture to criticize than to praise. Constant praise kind of feels cheesy.

  • "A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three". I myself cannot criticize any activity the child of this age has gained - eiter going down the slide him/herself or building the tower from bricks. Just look at the happy child's face and try to say that he/she did something wrong.
    – Artemix
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 8:50

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